Judge finds they were forced to work off the clock, will rule on remedy Feb. 14
In a major victory for home health and hospice nurses, Yakima county Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson on Thursday ruled that "overwhelming evidence" proved that home care nurses working at Yakima Regional Medical Center were forced to work substantial amounts of uncompensated time off the clock.
Several years ago, home care nurses raised their concerns about being forced to work off the clock. The lawsuit was filed by WSNA after other efforts, including numerous meetings with management and multiple grievances, failed to resolve the issue.
The evidence at the trial showed that Yakima Regional managers regularly paid nurses for eight hours of work a day, knowing that the nurses were routinely working additional hours to give patients the care they needed, complete required documentation and coordinate care with doctors and pharmacists.
After nine days of testimony, Judge Gibson ruled from the bench that Yakima Regional failed to keep accurate time records and pay the nurses for the hours they worked.
Judge Gibson also ruled that the home care nurses were denied uninterrupted half-hour meal breaks, to which they are entitled by state law, on at least 90 percent of the days they worked. The judge noted that to ensure that their patients received needed care in a timely way, the nurses had to interrupt their meal periods regularly to take telephone calls from physicians and pharmacists. Otherwise, the judge noted, the nurses would end up "playing phone tag" while their patients suffered.
WSNA was represented in the trial by Jennifer Robbins and Laura Ewan of the law firm Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt.
Judge Gibson indicated that he will announce his final ruling on the amount of damages next Wednesday, February 14, at 2:30 p.m., in Yakima County Superior Court.
We will send you information about damages as soon as we can. Thank you to all the nurses who stepped forward to testify and for all the additional hours they put into this effort.
When we stand together, we win!